Men and Alzheimer’s Risk

Even with recent research and findings announced nearly every month for prevention and treatment, there are nearly seven million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to rise to nearly 13 million.

While women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop Alzheimer’s disease and nearly two-thirds of people diagnosed are women, it’s still important to recognize the signs, symptoms, and risk factors if you are a man. This Father’s Day, make sure you (and the men you love) know how to recognize the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia established by the Alzheimer’s Association. These include:

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things or putting them in unusual places
  • Poor judgement
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

Regarding other examples of men and Alzheimer’s risk, there are Alzheimer’s symptoms and behaviors that appear to be more prevalent in men. These include problems with speech or movement and combative or aggressive behavior.

Gender Disparity and Alzheimer’s Risk

According to The Alzheimer’s Association, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in women is primarily attributed to age and biological factors. Women are likely to live five years longer than men, which puts them at higher risk for developing the disease. Some research even suggests societal and cultural factors play a role, including education, occupation, and reproductive history.

Yet men are more likely to engage in behaviors that could increase their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including smoking, drinking, and sports injuries. Moreover, Alzheimer’s disease is more difficult to diagnose in men, making it even more important to recognize the signs and symptoms early and seek treatment that may delay disease progression.

Men and Alzheimer’s Risk: Risk Factors

Gender-specific factors may also help to lower men’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. In men specifically, scientists have discovered some testosterone is transformed into estrogen, which seems to protect healthy brain cells. For this reason, men in later life do not experience the massive decrease in estrogen levels that women do after menopause. Because this is a new area of research, the role of hormones and hormone therapy in the pathogenesis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease continues to be examined.

There are several significant factors that offer men more protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Women’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease at age 65 is approximately 1 in 5, or 20%. Comparatively, men’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease at age 65 is 12%.
  • Men who live longer tend to have good cardiovascular health, which offers some protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Men are less likely to develop depression, which has been linked to a higher dementia risk.
  • Women with the APOE4 gene, the gene associated with Alzheimer’s risk, are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men.
  • New research shows men who take certain medications may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Men with Alzheimer’s disease experience a slower cognitive decline during the course of the disease.

Despite the lower risk among men, genetic testing such as the apolipoprotein E (APOE) screening tool now helps both men and women understand their genetic risk.  According to CNN Health, a new study indicates that 1 in 6 cases of Alzheimer’s are inherited from family and linked to the APOE4 gene. Understanding risk can lead to earlier interventions that may slow Alzheimer’s disease progression.

Learn more about the gender disparity and the disproportionate rate of Alzheimer’s disease in men and women.

Men and Alzheimer’s Prevention

Of the nearly seven million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease, 2.7 million are men according to the 2024 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report published by the Alzheimer’s Association. Although getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia and that risk roughly doubles every five years, there are still ways men can reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Prevent and manage high blood pressure
  • Manage blood sugar
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active
  • Don’t smoke and if you do smoke, quit
  • Avoid excessive drinking
  • Prevent and correct hearing loss
  • Get enough sleep
  • Maintain strong social connections
  • Keep mentally active

Men and Alzheimer’s Risk: Wrapping Up

If a man in your life appears to be struggling with Alzheimer’s symptoms, getting him the right care at the right time can have a positive and profound impact on his life. Serenades Memory Care communities feature award-winning programming specially designed to empower people with memory loss through self-awareness. We encourage those with memory loss to use their retained abilities while providing them with a sense of freedom and control in a purpose-built memory care assisted living community. In fact, our award-winning programs have proven to dramatically improve quality of life in those with memory impairment.

For example, people with Alzheimer’s disease are challenged by large, unstructured spaces. Serenades at Longwood, Serenades at West Orange and Serenades at The Villages feature smaller, more intimate neighborhood floor plans that integrate safety technology while creating opportunities for residents to engage in activities that feel familiar. A Latin word meaning “to thrive,” our Valeo™ approach to memory care incorporates all the essential safety features while promoting meaningful engagement and connections among residents, helping residents feel more at ease living with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Find a community near you or schedule a visit to learn more about Serenades Memory Care communities.

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